South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks presents funds to South Dakota State University Extension for an online Local Foods Center while attending the 2012 South Dakota Local Foods Conference. Pictured left to right, Dr. Rhoda Burrows and Chris Zdorovtsov, SDSU Extension; and State Director Meeks.
The second annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference was held recently to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, consumers, farmer’s markets, retailers, schools and others. The conference provided attendees from across the state two days of breakout sessions, networking, and instruction.
USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks attended the conference, taking the opportunity to award South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000. The Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Read more »
New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community. How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!
Students at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ cultivate their school garden from planting to harvest!
Read more »
An apple for the teacher? Yes, and the cafeteria too.
Classic images of eager children handing perfect apples to their teacher abound. In the idealized imagery, the apples are often shiny, red, and round. And if you are angling for a good grade, or really like your teacher, the apples are big. But in New Hampshire it was “school boy” apples, the small ones 2 – 3 inches in diameter, which launched an impressive farm to school program.
The New Hampshire Farm to School Program (NHFTS) was established in 2003 as a pilot program funded by the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program to introduce local apples and cider into New Hampshire K-12 schools.
“We really saw the small apples as an entry point for our farm to school program. Not many supermarkets or other vendors are interested in the smaller fruit, but they are the perfect size for schools,” said Elisabeth Farrell, Sustainability Program Manager of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Read more »
Students at Barack Obama Elementary School, near St. Louis, learn about healthy food choices through gardening.
Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Judith Canales recently had the opportunity to visit Missouri’s new Barack Obama Elementary School located in a suburb of St. Louis. The school district has started the Barack Obama Elementary Healthy Food Pilot Project where the objective is to serve a healthier school breakfast and lunch menu. As part of this pilot project, the Farm to School Program is being incorporated to bring in more locally grown produce. The elementary school has also created a school garden in partnership with community members, community-based organizations, and a local community gardening group. It appears that they are on the right track! Read more »
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently released its 2009-10 School Food Purchase Study, which provides national estimates of the quantity, value and unit price of food acquisitions by school districts participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. This year, the Survey for the first time asked specifically if school districts were purchasing local food and included questions about the total value of purchases and the major items purchased.
School district responses provide an important baseline for tracking the national progress of local food purchases by school food service programs. The responses showed that about 2 out of every 10 school districts surveyed purchased local produce for school meals during the 2009-10 school year, based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 416 school district food service directors about practices for purchasing food for school meal programs. An additional 12 percent indicated that they are in the process of developing a program for buying locally grown produce. Read more »
First-hand experiences with agriculture are a key component of farm to school programs.
Webinar Offers More Details on USDA Grants to Connect Schools and Local Producers
I’ve always thought the Let’s Move! initiative does an exceptional job of including everyone in the challenge of creating a healthier generation of kids. On the agriculture side, I’m pleased to say there’s a long list of folks eager to contribute: farmers, ranchers, fishermen, dairies, food processors, manufacturers, distributors and many others. Read more »